SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The sixth annual Sarajevo Film Festival concluded Sunday on a high note, with the top competition prize going to the Danish film “Bleeder” by Nicolas Winding Refn.
A tragic story of a love affair doomed by pregnancy, “Bleeder” was cited by the Fipresci jury for its compelling “balance of love and hatred, real life and art.” In the Bosnia section, the jury awarded top honors to Srdan Vuletia’s “Hop Skip and Jump,” about the Bosnian war’s divisive effects on one couple.
This year’s edition featured nine new pics by local helmers; last year, not a single new film by a Bosnian director was featured among the selection.
Inaugurated in 1996 in a city under Serbian siege, fest has steadily grown in size and cultural distinction. During its nine-day run, event featured 115 films from 35 countries in 10 sections, compared with 80 films last year. Programmers estimated that 60,000 people attended the fest, compared with 53,900 last year.
In addition to the official competition and Bosnian sections, several sidebars were competitive this year. The Panorama section, featuring the best works from around the world, split top honors between Mike Leigh’s “Topsy-Turvy” and Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi” (aka “A One and a Two”). Second prize went to Lars von Trier’s controversial musical “Dancer in the Dark,” while honorable mention went to Santosh Sivan’s “The Terrorist” and Lea Pool’s “Set Me Free.”
In the regional section, showcasing Eastern European films, top honors went to Ursula Urbaniak’s “The Junction,” although that section’s jury admitted to “serious reservations” about all the films in the section for their helmers’ lack of innovation, urging them to take risks and explore new techniques.
This year the fest also inaugurated a Children’s Program, a TV Festival and an Insert Program focused on the use of digital technology. Fest also hosted a retrospective to actor Steve Buscemi. Along with thesp-helmer Buscemi and actor Willem Dafoe, director Mike Leigh hosted a seminar with young Bosnian filmmakers.
U2’s Bono also appeared to introduce Wim Wenders’ “Million Dollar Hotel,” which the singer wrote and produced.